Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
August 3, 2012
Photos By: Ford Motor Company

Out to Launch

As I ‘ve said before, the only thing worse than my writing is my driving. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to give it the old college try and have fun while I’m doing it. In fact, if you ignore the 2 passes where I missed second—yup, I angrily threw those slips away—I still had 10 relatively clean passes in the most powerful production Mustang ever built. I’d say that qualifies as a blast.

Sadly, the best pass I could muster was a 12.22 at 120.21 mph with a 2.13 60-foot. Obviously my technique could use a bit of work, as our big brothers at Motor Trend managed a stellar 11.60 at 125.7 mph. Think of my runs as what the average guy can get out of the car within a few passes. The MT numbers are what the great drivers will pull. With sticky tires, this car is going to fly.

Even more educational than the e.t.’s was the validation of both the new Launch Control and the improved cooling system. By the time I strapped into the GT500, most of the other media types had already had their fun and were headed for the catering. As such, I was able to make a ton of back-to-back passes just hot-lapping the car. This showed that the cooling system stabilizes the heat soak and keeps the power at a pretty high level over extended usage. From the improved cooling fan and larger intercooler pump, to the larger heat exchanger and more efficient intercooler core, the package really worked. Certainly, the extra coolers in the Track Package didn’t hurt.

As for Launch Control, it was a joy, and a bit more user-friendly than the Boss version thanks to the on/off button below the headlight switch. If you aren’t aware, Launch Control allows you to preset the launch rpm from 3,000 to 4,500 rpm. With it engaged, you push in the clutch, mat the throttle, and get ready for the Tree to start the party. Then you release the clutch and let the AdvanceTrac help put that 631 lb-ft to the pavement. Even with all those toys, you can’t just dump the clutch on street tires. You have to ease into till it grabs, then go for it. It should work even better with racing rubber.

The feature is just another tool in your toolbox, but in my experience, it really helps with consistency. I’m notoriously inconsistent, but once I came to grips with a shifting style, most of my passes were within a tenth of each other. That just doesn’t happen with a normal 600-plus-horsepower car. Welcome to the age of Launch Control.

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